Montoya ends P3, retains IndyCar points lead

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INDIANAPOLIS – Juan Pablo Montoya banked his first road course Firestone Fast Six appearance since his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series on Friday, and in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, he followed it up with his third podium of the season.

More importantly, he retains the series points lead heading into the rest of the month of May. He has 171 points, with race winner Will Power on 166 and Helio Castroneves on 161.

Given Montoya’s weakness, relatively speaking, on road and street courses this year, he’s rather pleased about the fact he’s come through the opening five rounds on road and street courses leading the pack.

“It’s exciting, to be honest,” Montoya said. “My goal this year was not to lose that many points coming to Indy. I know our strong part of the season should be the ovals, you know what I mean, some of the road courses. I was looking forward to not be that far behind because I know once the ovals start I can make up some points.

“Having the points coming into Indy, it’s encouraging. We were fastest in the open test. The car felt really good, too. I’m pretty happy.”

Montoya started fourth and was lucky to avoid the first corner fracas off the start of the race.

He addressed one question about the run to Turn 1 and basically said “we should have knew this was coming” off a rolling start rather than a standing start, as it was last year.

“It’s the start of the race. Get over it. You know what I mean?” Montoya said. “You put us on the longest straight you can think of, you put a first-gear corner at the end of it, what do you think is going to happen? We’re not that smart (laughter).”

But he added of the day itself, “Yeah, it was good. I mean, we ran good all day. We pushed really hard.

“I got behind a little bit at the start. Behind but not behind. I was on the outside. There was really nowhere to go. (Scott) Dixon spun in front of me. I avoided that. I thought that was really good. It was really good I didn’t get tangled with anybody. But we lost three places.

“Made it tough because you’re behind. Our first pit stop, we had a problem with the right front, so we lost little bit of ground. I stayed behind Simon and Bourdais, made it a little tough. But after that, you know, the next one I passed them. Rahal was the one I didn’t manage to get. I thought we had the same pace.”

Montoya addressed traffic as well during the post-race presser, specifically Barber winner Josef Newgarden who through no fault of his own was stuck in-between Power and either or both of Graham Rahal and Montoya most of the race.

“Even if there was no rules, if you’re more than one lap down, you shouldn’t be getting in the way of the leaders.” Montoya said.

“The guy won last week. He should know better. If they did it to him last week, he lost the race because of that, he would have been crying and moaning.”

At least Montoya wasn’t, and at one point during the press conference noting Rahal’s own ire at Newgarden, he laughed off the fact he wasn’t the most frustrated man in the room.

“Glad somebody is more pissed off than me,” said the points leader.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.